Death of Ayman al-Zawahiri

ByFahad Ali

Associated with maritime trade


August 7, 2022

Fahad Ali talks about an important event

In modern times no non-state actor attracted more controversy than Al-Qaeda, an outfit that decisively disbalanced the balance of power in many parts of the world particularly the developed western countries. Al-Qaeda came to the fore more than two decades before and since then its footprint has not faded as its offshoots are still reported to be active in many regions. Its leader Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011 but then his right-hand Ayman al-Zawahiri took over the command of the Al-Qaeda and was known to be on the most wanted list of terrorists with a $25 million head-money for his capture or killing by the United States.

However, the US President Biden announced that the US killed al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in a drone strike in Afghanistan. Ayman al-Zawahiri, 71, was not as well-known as Osama bin Laden and was believed to be the true architect behind the worst terrorist attacks in US history on 11 September, 2001. For years, he was known as al Qaeda’s No. 2 man, when analysts say he was really the brains behind the operation. With al-Zawahiri’s death, all of top plotters of the September 2001 terrorist attacks are now either dead or captured. Al-Zawahiri had long been a wanted man as after the 9/11 attacks, then-President George W. Bush released a list of the FBI’s 22 most wanted terrorists — al-Zawahiri was near the top of the list, along with bin Laden. Bin Laden was killed by US special forces in 2011, but al-Zawahiri would elude attempts on his life and an international manhunt for over another decade.

Al-Zawahiri was born into a prominent Egyptian family, attending Cairo’s best schools and becoming a practicing physician. He became active in Islamic fundamentalism in his teens, joining the Islamic Jihad. When the group assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1981, al-Zawahiri was one of hundreds arrested and put on trial. He was thrown out of Egypt in 1984, after serving his sentence, and migrated to Afghanistan. There, he met bin Laden, and they formed a bond, merging al-Zawahiri’s ties to Islamic Jihad and bin Laden’s al Qaeda. Together, they shared a motive — to kill Americans, military and civilian alike. Following other attacks, their plotting culminated in11 September, 2001. While al Qaeda’s relevance and influence has declined, it continues to be a violent presence in the Middle East and Africa.

The successful strike against al-Zawahiri comes roughly one year after US withdrawal from Afghanistan and it was then known that al-Zawahiri came back to Afghanistan and communicating freely. The proof that Al-Zawahiri was alive came from the video messages issued by the group. Al-Zawahiri’s apparent increased comfort and ability to communicate has coincided with the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan and the consolidation of power of Al Qaeda allies within their de facto administration. Al Qaeda’s traditional strongholds in Afghanistan have been in the south and east of the war-ravaged country, but recently it appeared to be expanding its footprint to the west to the Farah and Herat provinces and possibly to the north. It was however pointed out that Al Qaeda is not an immediate international threat from its safe haven in Afghanistan because it lacks an external operational capability and does not currently wish to cause the Taliban international difficulty or embarrassment.

Zawahiri, who had a $25 million bounty on his head, was killed in a drone strike in the Afghan capital Kabul at 6:18am local time on Sunday morning. There were rumours of Zawahiri’s death several times in recent years, and he was long reported to have been in poor health. His death raises questions about whether Zawahiri received sanctuary from the Taliban following their takeover of Kabul in August 2021 and in this connection, it was mentioned that senior Taliban officials were aware of his presence in the city. The drone attack is the first known US strike inside Afghanistan since US troops and diplomats left the country in August 2021. It is reported that finding Zawahiri was the result of persistent counterterrorism work and intelligence identified this year that Zawahiri’s wife, daughter and her children had relocated to a safe house in Kabul, then identified that Zawahiri was there as well. He was identified multiple times on the balcony, where he was ultimately struck. He continued to produce videos from the house and some may be released after his death.

In the last few weeks, Biden convened officials to scrutinise the intelligence. He was updated throughout May and June and was briefed on 1 July on a proposed operation by intelligence leaders. On 25 July, he received an updated report and authorised the strike once an opportunity was available. A loud explosion echoed through Kabul early Sunday morning and a house was hit by a rocket in Sherpoor. In a statement, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed that a strike took place and strongly condemned it, calling it a violation of international principles. TW


The writ of international law
The writ of international law
M Ali Siddiqi looks at a crucial...
Resurgence of fascism
Resurgence of fascism
M Ali Siddiqi describes a dangerous...
President Xi Jinping
XI on his way to ruling China for life
M Ali Siddiqi talks about apparent...
Governance and equitable distribution of resources
M Ali Siddiqi talks about a long-standing...
The Need For Pakistan
The Need For Pakistan
M A Siddiqi expresses surprise...
The Presence And Essence Of Pakistaniat
The Presence And Essence Of Pakistaniat
M Ali Siddiqi describes a strong...

Get Newsletters


Subscribe Us